Friday, December 14, 2012

School Zone

I've been thinking a lot about my childrens' teachers.  This morning I arranged to have Josh stay home to watch Diddles so I could go in and volunteer in Boo's classroom.  My kids love it when I come in, and I enjoy dusting off my teacher voice and seeing if I've still got "it".  It's horribly ironic that in the hour I was gone, the whole world turned upside down with the news of the CT school shooting.  I wanted to go back over to the school and give those teachers a hug to say "Thank you for teaching my kids, and for keeping them safe while they are here."  It's a big job these days, being a teacher.

When I was student teaching in 5th grade, my seasoned mentor teacher and dear friend was giving a lesson in preparation for our school-wide lock-down drill.  We were instructed to lock the door, "hide" in the coat racks, turn off the lights, and sit very still until the all-clear alarm sounded.  Then she feistily said, "Now, I hope this never happens.  I hope we never have someone come into our school to hurt us, but if that person does, and if he kicks down our door and comes into our classroom with a gun, what do we do?"  Hands shot up, and kids started shouting, "we throw our books at him and jump on him!"  Then Odette said, "We jump on him all together, and we take him DOWN."

Now, I never taught this in my classroom.  I think she probably would have gotten in trouble if the principal knew about it.  Even that classroom of spastic 11-yr-olds would be no match for an automatic weapon.  However,  I could see the point she was getting at, even if I did disagree with her theory:  It's wrong.  It's wrong to hurt children or anyone in our school, and we won't stand for it.  We won't sit like ducks and wait to be picked off.  We will fight and defend and help eachother.

I'm grateful for my childrens' teachers.  They love and teach and protect my kids while they are at school.  I appreciate them so much, and I hope they know that I do.

Today I was invited into Boo's classroom to do a Christmas crafts with the kids, and talk about the traditions we do as a family.  We made paper bag luminaries, made candy cane felt mice ornaments, and I read them the story Granny Glittens and Her Amazing Mittens.  Boo's teacher is young, energetic and wonderful, and it's so nice to be welcomed enthusiastically into the classroom.  I was happy to observe how well Boo shines as a leader, helper and friend to her classmates.  At home it comes off as pretty bossy, but at school she's able to dial it back and be a kind leader to her classmates.  That's great to see.  There is a whole spectrum of maturity and ability in any classroom, and I'm always amazed at how teachers are able to juggle and adapt and adjust the way they teach to help each students' needs.  I was overwhelmed after an hour at the one kid who needed help with every step, and seemed to have memorized the phrase, "I just don't know how to do that!"  You don't know how to glue a felt ear onto a felt mouse?  (sigh)  Anyway, props to the teachers who are in those trenches day in and day out.

Diddles' speech teacher is another, who, although we're still trying to fine-tune her lessons and find ways to teach Diddles that will help her best, I know "W" means it when she says, "I love what I do."  I truly believe it.  She loves teaching speech, and she loves the kids and wants them to succeed.  I appreciate that.

Finally Yaks' teacher, who is so wonderful!  I'm so happy I sent a letter voicing my concerns about the kind of teacher I felt he needed this year.  At parent/teacher conferences, she listed all of the wonderful things about Yaks, but also listed his weaknesses and things she'd like to help him work on.  One of those things being that he sometimes is hesitant to try something, because he's afraid of it not being perfect (ie:  reading and writing).  I nodded at how accurate this was, and was so happy to hear about her plan to help him.  I've been delighted to hear him come home and tell us about this project or that activity, and see his progress.  Here are a couple examples:

At the beginning of the year, all his letters were linked together in one string of a sentence.  No spaces, no punctuation, no capitalization, no detail.  They have a list of spelling words that they work on that are called "Robust" vocabulary words, which are words like, "Awkward."  Its so fun to hear him use them correctly in conversation.

At conferences she told me about this building project that "would be right up Yaks' alley" where they learn to plan and measure and create a Christmas gift for their parents start to finish, out of wood!

Yaks has had some experience with this, and she was looking forward to seeing him "shine" at it.  He was a great helper to his other classmates, who had never handled a hand saw in their lives or measured anything!  He was so excited to show us the project last night, he made me unwrap it after school.  I can't believe she was able to organize this in such a way so that every child did this project on their own!  I can tell he did it on his own, too.  The saw lines aren't quite straight, and the paint job is a bit "drippy".  I love that she let it be "not" perfect.  It's a treasure.  I love it.

I used to feel so scared about sending my kids off to school.  I don't doubt there are some parents that feel that way today, especially.  However, the majority of communities and schools are safe, filled with people who LOVE the kids they teach, and want more than anything to help them succeed.  I'm grateful for the teachers in our lives, and the ways they help my kids to shine in ways that no one else can.  Thank you teachers!  We love you.

1 comment:

Liz said...

I have been thInking similar things about my son's teacher. We don't pay teachers enough for the huge responsibility we give them.